Heatstroke: Doctor outlines signs and symptoms to look out for
Heatstroke is a condition caused by the body overheating, and is usually caused by prolonged exposure to high temperatures.
If heatstroke isn’t treated, it can put a strain on the brain, heart, lungs, liver and kidneys, and can be life-threatening.
One of the most notable signs of heatstroke, according to the NHS, is hot skin that’s not sweating.
Skin may also look red, but the health body advises this can be harder to see on brown and black skin.
Other symptoms of heatstroke to look out for are:
- Still feeling unwell after 30 minutes of resting in a cool place, being cooled and drinking fluids
- A very high temperature
- A fast heartbeat
- Fast breathing or shortness of breath
- Confusion and lack of coordination
- A seizure or fit
- Loss of consciousness.
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If you see a person showing signs of heatstroke, call 999. If they lose consciousness while you’re waiting for help, put the person in the recovery position.
Heat exhaustion is less serious than heatstroke, but can turn into the latter if you’re not careful.
Signs of heat exhaustion include:
- Feeling sick or being sick
- Excessive sweating and skin becoming pale and clammy or getting a heat rash, but a Change in skin colour can be harder to see on brown and black skin
- Cramps in the arms, legs and stomach
- Fast breathing or heartbeat
- A high temperature
- Being very thirsty
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If you experience heat exhaustion, you must cool down to prevent heatstroke.
You can do this by moving to a cool place, removing unnecessary clothing (like socks) and drinking a sports or rehydration drink.
Another essential step is to cool the skin with cool water; following these guidelines should mean you feel better within half an hour.
Is heatstroke preventable?
One of the best ways to prevent heatstroke is to prevent heat exhaustion.
You can do this by drinking more cold drinks, wearing light-coloured, loose clothing, and avoiding excessive alcohol consumption.
How to cope in hot weather
According to the NHS, during heatwaves, more people than usual get seriously ill or die.
Those most vulnerable to heatwaves include:
- Those aged 75 and older
- Those living in a care home
- People who have long-term heart or lung conditions
- People on multiple medications
- People living in top-floor flats.
You can help keep your home cool by closing windows during the day, and opening them at night when the temperature reduces.
Another tip is to have a cool shower to help bring down your own body temperature.
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